What’s Wrong with this Picture?

Despite the photo to the right, I have faith in humankind. It is time, though, to start collecting photos of kids and dogs engaging in happy, respectful interactions with each other. Anything from the “dos” list would do the trick. I also happen to have a few copies of Happy Kids, Happy Dogs: Building a Friendship Right from the Start that I got when the book first came out. I’ll send a signed copy to the first five people that submit photos that I can use for my collection. I’ll post your photoschildallowedtostandondog on the Top Notch Dog Facebook page, here on the blog, and as an email so as many people can see them as they see photos like the one to the right. Please email your photo to me and let me know the ages of both child and dog, and any other info you’d like to share about the photo. Dogs or puppies of any age welcome, pictured with babies or kids. (Hint: photos taken outdoors, and in which the child and dog take up most of the photo, are usually best.)

If there is anything about the photo to the right that bothers you, you may well already be coaching your child and dog through lots of appropriate interactions. But here are some ideas to get you started. These are all ways that are great for kids to interact with dogs; they encourage respect and empathy and allow adults to make sure things are going well. 

  • Watch adults interact with, touch and greet dogs in the safe, correct way 
  • Help an adult teach or show off the dog’s tricks (high five, spin, roll over, take a bow, go night-night, the list is endless!)
  • Help an adult teach or show off the dog’s obedience cues (sit, down, come, etc.)
  • Under adult supervision, offer gentle, slow petting on the side of the dog’s face and under the chin
  • Kiss their hand and then slowly pet the side of the dog’s face to “give” the kiss
  • Play find-it games under adult supervision
  • Help adult bake dog cookies
  • Help adult groom the dog
  • Help adult feed the dog
  • Help adult fill the dog’s water dish
  • Feed treats while adult grooms the dog
  • Help adult play fetch with the dog
  • Help adult take the dog for walks (adult holds the leash)
  • Sing quietly to the dog 
  • Count the dog’s spots, feet, ears, tail, eyes, and legs
  • Draw pictures of the dog

Why did the dog chase his tail?

Because he was trying to make ends meet.

Sorry, a little recession humor there. But in these times, besides trying to keep an optimistic outlook, it’s also good to come across a discount or two. So I am now offering a Friends and Neighbors service. Here’s how it works:

Buddy-up with someone you know for an hour of customized dog training at Top Notch Dog, LLC. You and your friend split the cost of the session, plus receive a 10% discount, so that each of you pays $45/hr instead of $100/hr. You, your friend, and your dogs will get a lot out of learning and practicing together. Give it a try! 

 Some of the common things people like to work on together include:TopNotchDogPupilsShowingOffTheirManners

  • walking politely on leash
  • coming when called
  • greeting visitors without jumping up
  • teaching “leave it” or “go to your place”
  • basic training (sit, down, stay, come)
  • advanced training (preparing for therapy dog work, or attention, motivation, or control work for dog sports)
  • all things puppy (biting, indoor accidents, chewing on your things, crate training)
  • tricks! (especially fun for kids)
  • preparing your dog for your new baby
  • paying attention to you even around another dog
  • other goals you may have that lend themselves to sharing an appointment (your goals do not have to be exactly the same)

Call 493-4560 or visit Top Notch Dog for more information.  

Please pass this on to anyone you think would enjoy a better behaved dog. Thanks!

Should you get a new dog?

As the school year winds down, this is the time of year when many families think about adding a dog to their homes. Fortunately this works out most of the time, especially for those who know what they are getting into and have asked themselves a few important questions as they begin their search (for a complete list of questions and information on what to do next, see Open Paw). Sometimes, however, it doesn’t turn out so well. It ends up being the wrong fit, or the dog has serious behavior problems, or the family was not really prepared to get a dog. Here are some things to avoid and some things you can smilingdogdo to stack things in your favor:

Common pitfalls:

1. Rushing into it. The new dog could ideally be part of your family for 10-15 years, which is a huge commitment. Make sure you have the most up-to-date information on what to do. Slow down. Take your time. Use your mind as well as your heart. You won’t regret it if you do.

2. Letting pressure from someone else drive the process. A dog takes a lot of time, energy, money, and emotion to care for properly. Getting one for the wrong reasons, like guilt or pressure from a family member, the dog’s owner, or others, is no way to start off a successful relationship. (Note that children cannot be the dog’s primary caretakers, for reasons adults are not aware of until it is too late and they are up to their eyeballs in stress.)

3. Pity. Getting a dog mainly because you feel sorry for him is not the right way to start a healthy relationship. The dog or puppy you are considering might be the right dog for you, but it’s crucial to be sensible in evaluating him or her, or you could both end up regretting it. Learn what to look for, what to ask, and adopt the dog who would truly be the best fit for both of you.

Resources to help you succeed: 

Paws to Consider: Choosing the Right Dog for You and Your Family by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson. Honest descriptions of many breeds, mixed breeds and what you should know before you start looking. You might be surprised!

Successful Dog Adoption by Sue Sternberg. What to know before looking for a dog online or at a shelter, step-by-step instructions on what to do when you meet dogs and puppies, how to smoothly integrate the dog or puppy into your household, including housetraining and basic obedience instructions. A great resource regardless of where you plan to adopt or buy your dog.

Both of these books are very popular and available at most libraries. The Open Paw link above has free training advice, videos, and information on what to do before and after you get your new dog. For specific advice on how to find the right dog for children, see Happy Kids, Happy Dogs: Building a Friendship Right from the Start, also available at libraries. Happy searching!

Mother’s Day Special

You mother taught you to share, didn’t she? And she liked good behavior, right? Well here is your chance to make your mother proud by sharing with homeless dogs and teaching your dog good behavior. Receive 25% off your dog training appointment fee at Top Notch Dog in the month of May murphywhen you donate a minimum of $25 in cash or needed supplies to Saving Grace. I’d be glad to help you with leash manners, coming when called, helping your kids teach tricks, and even how to get your dog to say, “Mother may I?” instead of jumping up.


To find out more go to Top Notch Dog and enjoy your dog more, starting today! 

Pictured is Murphy Brown, the pride and joy of Lauren Collins. I teamed up with Lauren to help her train Murphy shortly after she adopted him from Saving Grace. Thanks to her efforts and to Saving Grace, he has had the chance to blossom into a wonderful companion.

Don’t Lick the Dog

April 27th is going to be a great day this year. It marks the much- anticipated release of Don’t Lick the Dog by award-winning illustrator Wendy Wahman. I have read the sample copy of this book over and over and I enjoy it every time (I am unfazed by the fact that it is designed for children ages 3-8). The drawings are unlike those I have ever seen in a children’s book. They are beautiful, vibrant, and express the gamut of emotions that children and dogs have in each other’s company. coverThe story conveys such joy and excitement, and at the same time such gentleness and thoughtfulness towards both dogs and kids. Get ready to feast your eyes on the masterfully created illustrations and the gorgeous design you’ll see page after page.

There are a couple of things that make this book one-of-a-kind. First, this is the only children’s book I know of that describes the correct way to make friends with a dog, and why it is so important to do it right. For example, plenty of people still teach their children to extend their hands for a dog to sniff. But that is outdated, potentially risky advice (and honestly, according to dogs, just plain rude). The narrator of Don’t Lick the Dog, a pony-tailed lady out on a walk with her six dogs, teaches her three young friends what to do instead: “Stand still and let dogs come to you, to smell your hand or sniff your shoe.” My very favorite pages show a dog being patted on the head by eager little hands, also a no-no (“Whap! Whap! Whap! Dogs hate that!”), followed by advice on what dogs wish we humans would do instead: “Gently stroke his chin or chest, or rub his cheek—Boo likes that best.”

Second, this book is simply a crack-up. There are little visual jokes and puns that you won’t see the first time you read, but that will reveal themselves with each new reading. I can’t think of a better way to learn something new than to have fun doing so. This book will delight your kids, teach them all the right things, and tickle their funny bones, too.

At Wendy Wahman’s blog you’ll find more information about Don’t Lick the Dog, upcoming book readings, and activities parents and educators can use with kids. I am so excited about this book that I am attending the launch party at Park Place Books in hopes of getting some autographed copies. Copies are also available for pre-order online. To tide you over, view these print-outs on the best way to meet a dog and the ABC’s of Dog Safety. And remember, don’t lick the dog!